Check the Changes Your Editor Makes

Check the Changes Your Editor Makes

Craft
  This is one of my best tips, ya'll. And I'm giving it to you for FREE! What makes this one of my best tips? If you do what I'm going to share with you here, you will build a great working relationship with your editors so that they want you to write for them. Breaking in is easy, folks. Staying in is another story. When I started getting published, I wanted to know what changes the editors made to my stories. (Because I'm a geek that way.) I mean, what commas were they removing, which sentences were they rearranging, how were they changing my quotes? I still want to know. So, when I receive my contributor copies in the mail—after the happy dance, of course—I open the magazine to…
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Do You Know Your Reader?

Do You Know Your Reader?

Craft
One of the main reasons I reject story pitches I receive as editor of a regional lifestyle publication is that the story would not interest our readers. The clue is in the word regional. Our magazine covers a certain region of the country. I regularly receive pitches for articles about places to go and people to see outside of our region. Um, hello? If you don't know your geography, look at a map. Likewise, one of the most frequent edits I make in stories I receive is vocabulary. If I, a college-educated, middle-aged woman who studied three foreign languages and worked vocabulary workbooks for fun as a kid doesn't know what a word means, surely my average reader won't either. (FYI, the average American reads on a seventh-grade level.) Know…
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Are Your Stories Alive?

Are Your Stories Alive?

Craft
  Are your stories alive? Or are they boring narratives that no one wants to read? Here is an example: BORING The head chef said that the best way to get paper-thin slices of tomato is to use a sharp knife or a mandoline. ALIVE "Your knife must be sharp," said the head chef as he pinched thumb and forefinger together, sliding them through the air. "A dull knife smashes the skin of the tomato as it cuts and then you end up with something that may as well have been out of a can!" Three rules to making your story come alive: Interview people in person. If you must, use the phone but never email. You get your best quotes from conversation. You get your best descriptions face to…
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Palette vs Palate

Palette vs Palate

Craft
I was reading a Facebook post on one of my favorite magazine's news feed. In that post, they used the word palate. When I read that word, I was reminded of a story that I wrote for the same publication using the word palette. The fact that palette and palate are two entirely different things, at that very moment, hit me upside the head like, well, like a ton of bricks. What also hit me upside the head was that I remembered using the wrong word both in my query and in my story. From Merriam-Webster.com Conscientious freelancer that I am, I felt compelled to let the editor know that the wrong word had been used in my story and that I was, nonetheless late to notice, deeply sorry. So,…
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